2013 has been an eventful year for hip-hop, and particularly noticeable has the debate been around hip-hop and homophobia. As a music genre and subculture, the history of hip-hop is unarguably smudged with blatant homophobia and heteronormativity. However, in recent years we are finally seeing a more multifaceted expression that is able to renegotiate its relationship with the LGBT community and wider popular culture.

The past has been nuanced to say the least, but I would like to focus some attention on where we currently stand as we are approaching the end of an eventful year. What has become increasingly clear is that we have reached a point where I'm no longer sure what anyone thinks anymore; there's Eminem including homophobic lyrics on his most recent album stating it's part of an act he plays - at the same time you have Macklemore and Ryan Lewis advocating gay rights in the song 'Same Love'. The former won an EMA Award for 'Global Icon' and the latter took home a VMA 'Best Video with a Social Message' - both prizes represented by tacky figurines and awarded by MTV.

As we're approaching the end of a tumultuous year, my poststructuralist brain is facing a meltdown - artistry, politics, media, pop culture, hip-hop as well as the wider music industry has never been so intertwined and I'm starting to doubt we will ever see homosexuality and hip-hop levelling down to a harmonious symbiosis. But then again, who said hip-hop and homosexuality are inherently harmonious entities? Both share a political history of oppression and struggles - albeit in different forms. For my sanity's sake I think it's time to rewind and revisit some of recent additions to the continuous debate.

November marked BBC Radio 1 Xtra's dedicated hip-hop month, part of which included a debate on Sunday the 24th where homophobia and hip-hop was on the agenda. Arguments such as 'Hip-Hop is not homophobic but individual rappers can be' were predictably brought up. However what I found the most memorable was said by the A&R for Island Records Benny Scarrs when asked the question whether or not he would veto an album or a track containing a homophobic rap lyric.

The reason why I found his response almost shocking was the fact that it wasn't a straightforward 'yes' - and I do give him credit for actually providing an honest answer. He said that he would possibly veto a homophobic lyric but it depends on the context. What was also brought up in the discussion was the recent media outrage with James Arthur who got himself into a bit of trouble for a homophobic rap slur calling Micky Wortless 'queer'. Although he's apologised for this since - the arguments brought up in his defense in the debate was that it was said in the context of a battle. Again, homophobic language in hip-hop seems almost justified by the notion of context.

When delving further into this discussion it's apparent that in the context of a battle rhyme it might be ok to use homophobic terminology as a strike against your opponent. And of course, not just homophobic but any offensive language is almost expected. But what happens when hip-hop is taken out of a battle context and transferred into the mainstream music industry? Suddenly such rhetoric is no longer appropriate for obvious reasons - but does stripping out all offensive language inherently comprise the authenticity of hip-hop?

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the homophobic slur present in some hip-hop is in fact a learned language and does not necessarily reflect the option of the artist. In an attempt to defend the homophobic rhetoric on the single 'Rap God' Eminem explains it doesn't mean he himself is against LGBT people - rather this is a behavioural expression stemming from his days of battle rapping.

I'm not in any way suggesting that this justifies homophobic slur in rap lyrics, but it does exemplify that they might not necessarily come from a place of hateful and offensive intention. The problem comes when we start questioning how the fans decipher these lyrics. As many hip-hop artist start from the humble beginnings battle rapping often entails, it's not necessarily surprising offensive words are part of their 'rap-ertior'. But is it down to the music industry as a whole to filter the language of these rappers, or do the audiences need to learn how to decode its meaning? Or as in the case of James Arthur and Eminem, do we need to rely on the artists themselves to justify and explain the language they use?

I don't think we'll ever have a straightforward answer to these questions, but luckily there are hip-hop artists actively speaking up against homophobia, and this is a promising development becoming increasingly prominent. Furthermore, we are also seeing artists such as Brooke Candy, Angel Haze, and Mykki Blanco pushing boundaries with sexuality to the point where 'queer hip-hop' is becoming steadily visible on the musical landscape - and we will finally be able to revel in the latter twos much anticipated studio album releases due next year. Simultaneously we have big names such as Jay-Z and Russell Simmons openly supporting LGBT rights, which is taken even further in the politically charged lyrics by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. An additional point of view is that taken by rappers such as Azealia Banks, who is openly bisexual but doesn't make it part of her artistry as she doesn't want to live on other peoples terms. I don't think this is necessarily very politically effective, but at least it creates space of homophobia-free hip-hop.

Conclusively, what I've learned this year is that there are rappers who include homophonic slur in their lyrics but are openly not homophobic, and there are rappers actively campaigning against homophobia in hip-hop and wider society. There are also rappers who are pushing boundaries of gender and sexuality, but they might not be advocating it politically. We also have countless household names within the genre publicly supporting LGBT rights and having openly proclaimed they have nothing against homosexual people.

The only question I'm left with is; where is the genuine homophobia in hip-hop? I'm beginning to think it has nothing to do with the rappers, albeit fuelled by their lyrics, which then again were not necessarily written with malicious intentions. Is it in fact the audience that is homophobic, is it merely a reflection of society as a whole? If we zoom out we can't carry on this debate without acknowledging the fact that homophobia is unfortunately found across the globe and is, along with all other types of prejudice, a problem beyond the scope of a music genre to deal with comprehensively. As hip-hop is a very expressive form of music, will homophobia always be present in rap lyrics as long as it's present in society? This may very well be so, and in that case I'm genuinely hoping the political and cultural effectiveness of hip-hop will be put into good use. I don't think we will see a harmonious symbiosis anytime soon - but then again, sociopolitical advocacy through music is seldom a harmonious affair.